I'm new to this forum, so hello! I am very interested in intentional communities, and it is my goal with a group of others to create models for sustainable and tightly-knit city-communities of the future.
If you're not familiar with an intentional community, it is a (usually small) group of people who all live together around a shared interest, goal, or set of values. It is similar to a village, tribe, or intimate neighborhood.
As an introvert, I am aware of and am studying the unique challenges this personality type poses for functioning communities. Sure enough, I'm going through a personal dilemma at an existing community and would like to know if anyone has advice or simply wants to partake in a potentially interesting discussion.
First off, a little about myself- among other things I consider myself an outgoing introvert. I really value meaningful social interaction and am comfortable meeting new people and talking to groups. However doing so really drains me. I have to be full of energy to willingly engage in socializing and I have a strict quota. I also really despise small talk as well as distracting/unplanned/spontaneous socialization, e.g. people trying to start a conversation when it's clear I'm napping or practicing mindful eating. I am also an empathic listener so I have trouble getting out of conversations I'm not really interested in. All of this means that I try to be efficient with my social energy; I usually gravitate toward having a very small group of friends with whom I have many shared interests, or having planned events like facilitated group discussions/meetings on a certain topic where I know what we'll talk about.
I'm currently living in an intentional community in the Western U.S. where about 70 people live year-round (about half of which change each year) plus about 30,000 tourists visit annually. So there are lots of opportunities for social interaction with friends and strangers. I also live with the same people I work with so work and leisure overlap a lot. On a daily basis I find myself in the dreaded unsolicited/spontaneous social situations. In the early morning my neighbors say hello and ask me how I am despite me not making eye contact and clearly not being a morning person. On my way to and from the area I work, the same thing happens. Then after dinner when I'm reading or drawing a landscape outside, residents and tourists alike think it's appropriate to interrupt me and start chit-chatting.
The result is that since I know I'll be dragged into unwanted/spontaneous socialization several times throughout the day, when I have control (like during meals or evenings) I actively choose not to socialize so that I can retain my energy. So then the only times I end up socializing are undesired and not fulfilling, resulting in growing feelings of isolation, loneliness and anxiety.
I feel like the social etiquette to know when it is appropriate to engage is common sense, but maybe this place is full of extroverts who don't understand the implications..
My associates and I have thought of several potential solutions for this, such as establishing explicit social etiquette rules in each space so that everyone knows what to expect. For example since hallways are meant for travel and not socializing, they should be quiet spaces. Living rooms are generally social hubs, so it should be expected that when you are in there you are willing to socialize. And of course spaces/rooms/tables can be subdivided to accommodate everyone in the same location. These are all ideas we have for future communities which would probably be more natural to integrate than at existing communities.
How does one communicate the importance of social etiquette or adapting to the needs of introverts in a community?
What ways can these adaptations be easily integrated into an existing community that isn't used to them?
What advice do you have for an introvert struggling in this kind of environment?
If you've been through high school or interest group then you've probably dealt with many of the same struggles. So please tell me how you have coped with them :)
Post here for any topics about introversion in general.
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I want to welcome you. I'm sorry I don't have advice for you, as I can't imagine wanting to live in such an enviroment.
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Just break it down to them if they get worried or bother you about it; they might not get it, but all you can do is try
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